Category

Photo of the Day

Photo of a Fossilized Fish

Photo of the Day

This is another fossilized fish from the Green River geological formation, Kemmerer, Wyoming. A member of the Phareodus genus, this specimen was preserved in the fine sediment of an ancient lake. It is thought to be about 40 to 50 million years old, from the Eocene Epoch of the Cenozoic Era.

Fossil fish, collected at the Green River Formation, Kemmerer, Wyoming, dated to the Eocene Era, Phareodus

Fossil fish, collected at the Green River Formation, Kemmerer, Wyoming, dated to the Eocene Era.
Image ID: 20869
Species: Phareodus

Fossil Fish

Photo of the Day

This fossil fish was collected at the Green River geological formation, Kemmerer, Wyoming. Well preserved deep in the sediment of an ancient lake, this fossil fish is estimated to be about 40 to 50 million years old, from the Eocene Epoch of the Cenozoic Era. From a private collection.

Fossil fish, collected in Green River Formation, Fossil Lake, Kemmerer, Wyoming, dated to the Eocene Era.  Order: Ellimmichyiformes: Family; Ellimmichthyidae; Diplomystus dentatus, Diplomystus dentatus

Fossil fish, collected in Green River Formation, Fossil Lake, Kemmerer, Wyoming, dated to the Eocene Era. Order: Ellimmichyiformes: Family; Ellimmichthyidae; Diplomystus dentatus.
Image ID: 20866
Species: Diplomystus dentatus

Photo of Buckskin Gulch

Arizona, Photo of the Day

Last one from Buckskin Gulch: a hiker considering the towering walls and narrow, convoluted passageway of the the Buckskin Gulch narrows. The trail continues behind the hiker, disappearing into the twisting walls so that it is hard to tell that it is even there. The floor of the passage is littered with large cobblestones, deposited there from upstream by powerful floodwaters that fill the slot canyon and carve it deeper into the sandstone with each passing year’s storms.

Hiker in Buckskin Gulch.  A hiker considers the towering walls and narrow passageway of Buckskin Gulch, a dramatic slot canyon forged by centuries of erosion through sandstone.  Buckskin Gulch is the worlds longest accessible slot canyon, running from the Paria River toward the Colorado River.  Flash flooding is a serious danger in the narrows where there is no escape, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona

Hiker in Buckskin Gulch. A hiker considers the towering walls and narrow passageway of Buckskin Gulch, a dramatic slot canyon forged by centuries of erosion through sandstone. Buckskin Gulch is the worlds longest accessible slot canyon, running from the Paria River toward the Colorado River. Flash flooding is a serious danger in the narrows where there is no escape.
Image ID: 20716
Location: Buckskin Gulch, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona, USA

Buckskin Gulch Backpacking

Arizona, Photo of the Day

Here are a few backpackers walking through the Buckskin Gulch narrows. They are blurry because it is so dark in the narrows that a tripod and long exposure must be used, which caused the backpackers to smear across the photo as they walked while the stationary walls and ground remain sharp and clear. Check out the big log jammed between the sandstone walls! It was left there by a powerful flash flood some time in the past, and is a testament to the height and strength of those floods.

Suspended log in Buckskin Gulch.  Hikers pass beneath a heavy log suspended between the walls of Buckskin Gulch, placed there by a flash flood some time in the past.  Buckskin Gulch is the world's longest accessible slot canyon, forged by centuries of erosion through sandstone.  Flash flooding is a serious danger in the narrows where there is no escape, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona

Suspended log in Buckskin Gulch. Hikers pass beneath a heavy log suspended between the walls of Buckskin Gulch, placed there by a flash flood some time in the past. Buckskin Gulch is the world’s longest accessible slot canyon, forged by centuries of erosion through sandstone. Flash flooding is a serious danger in the narrows where there is no escape.
Image ID: 20723
Location: Buckskin Gulch, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona, USA

Bubble Rings

Photo of the Day

Bubble Ring Day. It was so hot in the desert today all we could do was swim in the pool. Good thing I had my trusty uber-unterwasser-oring-foto-kamera along. We blew off some fine bubble rings and had fun watching them wobble and grow as they floated up through the water. These bubble rings are actually stable toroidal air pockets that usually maintain their delicate shapes all the way to the surface (if left to ascend undisturbed). I was pretty lightheaded after spending 30 minutes repeatedly holding my breath on the bottom of the pool making these bubble rings, so I did it for another 20 minutes and got super lightheaded. It was way more funnerer than hyperventilating into a paper bag. Ah, good times.

A bubble ring. A young girl reaches out to touch a bubble ring as it ascends through the water toward her

A bubble ring. A young girl reaches out to touch a bubble ring as it ascends through the water toward her.
Image ID: 20774

A bubble ring. A child puts her hand through a bubble ring at it ascends through the water toward her

A bubble ring. A child puts her hand through a bubble ring at it ascends through the water toward her.
Image ID: 20775

A bubble ring. A young girl watches as a bubble ring ascends through the water toward her

A bubble ring. A young girl watches as a bubble ring ascends through the water toward her.
Image ID: 20776

A bubble ring.  A toroidal bubble ring rises through the water on its way to the surface

A bubble ring. A toroidal bubble ring rises through the water on its way to the surface.
Image ID: 20777

Trochoidal sunlight patterns on the bottom of a swimming pool

Trochoidal sunlight patterns on the bottom of a swimming pool.
Image ID: 20778

A bubble ring.  A toroidal bubble ring rises through the water on its way to the surface

A bubble ring. A toroidal bubble ring rises through the water on its way to the surface.
Image ID: 20779

Photos of the Wire Pass Narrows

Photo of the Day

After an easy half-hour walk from the Wire Pass Trailhead, one reaches the end of the sandy Wire Pass trail. At this point the trail enters the first of two Wire Pass Narrows, two fine examples of sandstone slot canyons. Formed by years of water erosion these slots are really narrow, in some places only about two feet wide. Here’s a look at a hiker squeezing through the narrowest point:

A hiker walking through the Wire Pass narrows.  This exceedingly narrow slot canyon, in some places only two feet wide, is formed by water erosion which cuts slots deep into the surrounding sandstone plateau, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona

A hiker walking through the Wire Pass narrows. This exceedingly narrow slot canyon, in some places only two feet wide, is formed by water erosion which cuts slots deep into the surrounding sandstone plateau.
Image ID: 20715
Location: Wire Pass, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona, USA

After emerging from the first narrows but before reaching the second set of narrows, the hiker finds a brief widening of the trail with some cool striations in the sandstone:

Sandstone formations.  Layers of sandstone are revealed by erosion in the Wire Pass narrows, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona

Sandstone formations. Layers of sandstone are revealed by erosion in the Wire Pass narrows.
Image ID: 20731
Location: Wire Pass, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona, USA

More Wire Pass Narrows photos.

Wire Pass Trailhead

Arizona, Photo of the Day, The Wave

If you are going to hike to Buckskin Gulch or the North Coyote Buttes, you will likely start at the Wire Pass trailhead. Here is what it looks like at 6am. The dirt road you see, on which the trailhead parking lot is located, is the House Rock Valley Road. The few times I have driven it, the road has been fine. However, it is an unpaved road and I have heard that, following rain storms, it can be nearly unpassable. Just to be safe I have always used a high clearance vehicle on the House Rock Valley Road. A few cars are in the trailhead parking lot, with hikers readying their stuff for the day’s outing or still snoozing in their campers if they spent the night there.

Wire Pass trailhead.  The parking lot at the Wire Pass trailhead, early morning, as hikers arrive and set out to Buckskin Gulch, the North Coyote Buttes and the Wave, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona

Wire Pass trailhead. The parking lot at the Wire Pass trailhead, early morning, as hikers arrive and set out to Buckskin Gulch, the North Coyote Buttes and the Wave.
Image ID: 20745
Location: Wire Pass, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona, USA

Here is a look at the Wire Pass Trail itself, which runs down a sandy wash. It is quite unexceptional, and does not begin to hint at the wonderful sights that it will lead one to in either the Wire Pass Narrows or at the Wave.

Wire Pass trail.  The Wire Pass trail runs along a river wash through sandstone bluffs and scattered trees and scrub brush, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona

Wire Pass trail. The Wire Pass trail runs along a river wash through sandstone bluffs and scattered trees and scrub brush.
Image ID: 20746
Location: Wire Pass, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona, USA

A Day At The Wave, North Coyote Buttes, Part I

Arizona, Photo of the Day, Stories, The Wave

I have long heard comments from hikers and landscape photographers about the beautiful and bizarre sandstone formations of the North Coyote Buttes area of Arizona. I am not a serious landscape photographer nor am I a what you would consider a “desert lover”. However, on a lark, I decided to apply for a permit for a hiking permit to the Wave, a particularly fantastic and odd section of the North Coyote Buttes. The Wave is so popular that the Bureau of Land Management must limit access to the Wave to only 20 people per day, by lottery. Summer is to be avoided due to the heat, and winter is not particularly pleasant due to cold and possible ice, snow or rain out there. Spring and Fall are the times to go. In spite of my applying for the most popular time of year, I lucked out and scored a permit. It came in the mail about 5 weeks later, along with some cool topo maps and directions to find the Wave amid the crazy random sandstone confusion that is the North Coyote Buttes. (More about finding the Wave in future posts.)

Geometric joints and cracks form in eroding sandstone, North Coyote Buttes, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona

Geometric joints and cracks form in eroding sandstone.
Image ID: 20610
Location: North Coyote Buttes, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona, USA

As my permit date (April 16) approached, I was besieged with work and family responsibilities, and it became clear that I would not be able to take a proper four- to seven-day trip allowing me to explore the area immediately around the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument (in which the Coyote Buttes and the Wave are located), which includes cool places like Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Buckskin Gulch, etc. Instead I pulled a virtual overnighter, hopping the hooker flight to Vegas on Tuesday, driving four hours to Page, getting up at dawn on Wednesday, hitting the trail, spending the whole day out in the area of the Wave exploring and admiring the sandstone formations, getting back to my car after sunset, driving back to Vegas, settling down in some nasty hotel next to the airport (should have stayed on the Strip, what was I thinking), finally hitting the sack at 1am only to rise at 4:30am Thursday for a 6am flight back to San Diego. Back in my office at 8:30am on Thursday. Door to door about 40 hours. Whew. It was worth it though: it was one of the coolest hikes I have ever taken, and I am looking forward to going back to look around the area more.

Photos of the Wave, North Coyote Buttes

Route 66

Photo of the Day

One our recent desert road trip, we found ourselves on Route 66 for a while. We passed some seriously forlorn-looking old eateries, defunct and barely surviving service stations, and some funky little communities that look like they are ever-so-slowly fading away. It was strange to think that before the interstate system was developed, Route 66 was one of the major travel arteries of our country. Now it is little more than a footnote and curiosity for old-timers and history buffs.

Route 66 (also known as U.S. Route 66, The Main Street of America, The Mother Road and the Will Rogers Highway) was a highway in the U.S. Highway system. One of the original federal routes, US 66 was established in 1926 and originally ran from Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, before ending at Los Angeles for a total of 2,448 miles.  US 66 was officially decommissioned (i.e, removed from the offical U.S. Highway system) in 1985 after it was decided the route was no longer relevant and had been replaced by the Interstate Highway System

Route 66 (also known as U.S. Route 66, The Main Street of America, The Mother Road and the Will Rogers Highway) was a highway in the U.S. Highway system. One of the original federal routes, US 66 was established in 1926 and originally ran from Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, before ending at Los Angeles for a total of 2,448 miles. US 66 was officially decommissioned (i.e., removed from the offical U.S. Highway system) in 1985 after it was decided the route was no longer relevant and had been replaced by the Interstate Highway System.
Image ID: 20567
Location: California, USA